CVIndependent

Mon07222019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Dear Mexican: I’m half-Mexican and—on my conservative Christian, Republican father’s side—half-white. Growing up, I was discouraged from learning Spanish by my father and his family (while mi abuela tried to teach me anyway), so never learned; I’m currently having to learn as an adult.

My father’s family always tried to impress upon me their specific beliefs on all topics—my grandfather and I have gotten into arguments since I was 8 about his racist attitude toward those with a brown background, and I’m constantly having to remind him that myself and mi prima are both half-Mexican (her on her father’s side), even going to the extent of adding Perez to my last name (it’s my mom’s maiden name) for the last few years.

I know what I had to deal with growing up, and now with the whole immigration fiasco, my grandfather continues on and on. My little 8-year-old prima is stuck in the middle and is really starting to feel bad about herself because of this—she is torn between loving her grandpa and loving her personal background.

How can I help her?

Confused Half Breed

Dear Pocho: If having you and your little cousin as grandkids hasn’t convinced your abuelito that Mexicans are good people, then que se vaya a la chingada. Blood is thicker than water, they say—but it’s not thicker than horchata, so Mexicans ain’t obliged to genuflect before their elders.

There are entire swaths of cousins who didn’t talk to their grandmas for decades because of some perceived slight the abuelas paid on their mom or dad back in the rancho. And, sometimes, the grandma or grandpa in the family was an unrepentant asshole. Respect and honor is very important for Mexicans, but so is common sense, so I’d tell your primita to tell your grandpa to fuck off, and be proud of her Mexican part—that’s the best thing you can do to shape her young mind.

Dear Mexican: I’ve read many of the letters people have sent you, and I must say that they seem a little one-sided. I’m a Welshman, trying to get my green card. I spent nine months in La Habra, and in my experience, the friendliest people were those in the Mexican community. I received better service at Gonzalez Northgate Markets than I did in Walmart. The other customers were friendlier, too.

So, my question is: Why do you get so many letters from people who appear to dislike or even hate Mexicans?

Soon-to-Be Immigrant

Dear Taffy: I’m found your letter behind a nopal in my archives, so I’m not sure what year in which you sent this letter. What you describe was once true, but ain’t the case anymore. Time was when the Mexican would get cartloads of nasty letters from losers—but since I always get the last word, they got a can of chile powder thrown on their pride again and again, and word got around.

Nowadays, straight-out hate letters are as rare in my mailbox as a Mexican FIFA World Cup championship, because the haters know better than to write in, even though we live in a historically bad time for Mexicans in el Norte.

I think all good people can take a lesson from my experience: When the haters go for you, don’t ignore them—fight back with humor, stats and DESMADRE, and they’ll scatter away like the cucarachas they are.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: What’s up with pochos and their disrespect for their origins?

I’m a Mexican who was born and raised in Mexico, a proud chilango, and, well, I gotta know: Why do pochos, or Mexican Americans or whatever, try to make our reputation as bad as possible by acting all like gangsters, drug dealers and lazy, ignorant, people? I mean, no kidding: They represent Mexican culture in the U.S.A., and, well, it doesn’t give us real Mexicans a good image, especially the working ones. I mean, I’m not poor, but I was born poor, and my best example is my dad, who busted his butt off, working for us to get where we are. So, why do pochos depict us as low-rider drivers who do drive-bys, and lazy guys who are ignorant and know nothing? I mean, I got pushed back to eighth-grade again when I studied in the U.S. for a year, just because I came from Mexico. Their excuse was that our school system was different, so they did that. Anyways, I hope you can answer why pochos do that.

Mexico City Misfit

Dear Naco: Man, Mexicans have been fretting about the supposedly bad image Mexican Americans give them ever since Octavio Paz was railing against pachucos in The Labyrinth of Solitude. In “The Pachuco and Other Extremes,” he ripped apart Mexican-American youth as emblematic of a “sheer negative impulse, a tangle of contradictions, an enigma,” and accused them of “grotesque dandyism and anarchic behavior”—and if that doesn’t describe all the wannabe buchones who blast El Komander from their Escalades while driving to Culiacán, I don’t know what does.

Too regional a reference? How about all the Mexican soccer fans who continue to chant “Ehhhhhh … PU-TO” during matches despite FIFA fines and pleas from El Tri? You think Emiliano Zapata would approve of that mierda?

The years have taught me that the more “real” a Mexican says they are, the more pendejo they actually are—and, I mean, you just proved that.

Dear Mexican: I’m a dark Mexican with curly hair who spent my whole life defending my full-blooded Mexican-ness to people who insisted I was half-black. I married a black guy, because (aside from the fact that I fell in love with him), as I explained to my grandma, no Mexican guy ever gave me the time of day, while black guys did. So we have one child who is, as George Lopez says, “Chicano-Plus.”

Why is my family so fascinated with him? “Look at his curly hair!” I have curly hair! “Look at his beautiful skin?” We’re the same color! He looks just like me and not a bit like his black daddy. Same goes for another family member who also married a black guy! What gives with mixed babies and Mexicans? And why didn’t I get this kind of love growing up?

Hating on My Mixed Baby

Dear Pocha: Chill out—everyone’s freaking out about your baby because he’s obviously cute, and mixed babies are the most chulos. You didn’t get that love, en el other hand, because your family was in denial about ustedes’ Afro-Mexican roots. (Dark skin? Curly hair? There’s an African in that family árbol … or at least a Moor.) How to explain the contradiction? Easy: By marrying a black man, you’ve helped to pushed racial ambiguity and anxiety back into the chamber pot of pendejismo where it belongs, right next to Donald Trump and Mexican soccer fans who chant “Eh … PUTO!”

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: Help a pocha out—what can I do to reclaim my heritage?

I grew up in Orange County with my white mother and half-brothers and sisters who used to tease me that I needed a green card to get home after trips to Rosarito Beach.

I now live in my Mexican father’s home (he grew up in Rock Town, Duarte) since inheriting it after he passed in 2010. My father never taught me to speak español, which haunts me … help! For instance, I try to practice my Spanish when I order at the local taco truck. Sometimes, I feel like it’s not well-received, because I get answered back in English. I don’t want to come off as condescending. It’s not that I assume that they don’t know how to speak English—I’m just trying to see if someone other than my boyfriend can understand me. (He’s half-Dominican and shares some of my same cultural dilemmas.) I try to participate in my neighborhood’s various events, and I’m learning my aunt’s tamale recipes and such.

Any other things this half-xican should try?

Mexican in SGV

Dear Pocha: Primeramente, you need to get it out of your cabeza that you need to speak Spanish to be a proper Mexican. Cuauhtémoc didn’t, and they still built a statue of him in Tijuana. And take a chill pastilla: If your local taquero responds to you en inglés when you try out your Spanish, it’s probably because he has pity on you and is trying to make you feel comfortable, so don’t take it as an insult.

I’m glad you’re learning your tía’s tamale recipes, and I’d actually focus on that to reclaim your heritage—food is the great transmitter and keeper of culture, and symbolic ethnicity is how fifth-gen Irish Americans can still claim they’re from County Cork, despite having as much in common with a shantytown Irish as a Trump piñata does with the Santo Niño de Atocha.

The most important thing is that you’re proud of your mexicanidad, and you’re most likely better off than your asshole half-hermanos—stay classy, Orange County!

Dear Mexican: I’ve heard a style of Mexican music that intrigues me, yet I cannot find the name of it. It’s similar to mariachi, as it usually has a small group—upright bass, guitar, etc. The vocal harmonies are very, very good. It almost sounds like the Beatles with jazzy overtones. I’ve heard songs like “La Bamba.” I did an Internet search, and the closest thing I could find is son jarocho; however, pictures show bands from Veracruz using harps and other different instruments. The style I am trying to find has conventional instruments.

There was a band that played this style a few years back at Acapulco, the restaurant in Orange on Katella Avenue near a big theater. I also recall that my mom had a record back in the early ’60s called Los Pinguinos at El Shrimp Bucket. This is the recording I loved as a child. The vocal harmonies were extremely good. The music is obviously not mariachi, as there are no horns or violins.

I would appreciate you pointing me in the right direction!

Living in Seizure World

Dear Viejito Gabacho: Since when has a harp not been “conventional”?

I found your album on eBay, but no way am I spending $35 on it. I did look at the tracks, however, and the mix of Mexican classics and the songs you mentioned peg Los Pinguinos’ style as trio. Oh, and there’s the whole thing of YouTube having tracks of Los Pinguinos—you do know about YouTube, right?

The next time you have a question for the Mexican, make it a true head-scratcher, like what happened to los 43 de Ayotzinapa or why Mexicans root for Chivas when a fourth-division German team would send them to la chingada.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I’m a half-Mexican, more American than Mexicant (although to Cockasians, I’m sure I’m just another brown spot on their white carpet). I don’t speak Espanole nor do I care to, not because I’m ashamed, but I just don’t feel the need. If I lived in another county, I would need to, but I live in white-washed Southern California, and 80 percent of my interactions are English transactions.

In the small percentage of meetings with fellow Mexis, when I confess that I don’t know Spanish, I get the frustrated angry jeers and, in one occasion, ridiculed. I’m insulted that just because my TACO skills are less than theirs, I have to be shafted. Here’s the thing: Is it REALLY a big deal that I don’t know Spanish? Why can’t I just be left alone and not have to explain my reasons and FUCK! It’s just like my veganism explanation: I’m a Mexican vegan, and I don’t speak Spanish, and I am PROUD.

No Speaky Spanisho

Dear Pocho: While hard stats on how many half-Mexis speak Spanish are duro to come by, the U.S. Census’ 2011 American Community Survey offers a bit of a clue. It shows that about 20 percent of people of the 2.8 million people who speak Spanish at home, but don’t consider themselves Latinos, can trace their heritage to a Spanish-speaking country. And given that 26 percent of non-Latinos who do habla live in a household that has one Latino member, and 30 percent of such Spanish speakers are married to a Latina/o, we can surmise (with a lot of mezcal, and birria to soak up that statistical cruda) that halfers retain their Spanish about as well as the Mexican government retains narcos.

That said, who cares? If people make fun of you for speaking bad Spanish, let them; then congratulate them for being as bigoted as you.

I play in a fantasy football league with 11 other beaners. Most of them are pretty cool, but one of them is a total pendejo. When his team was mamando verga last year, he basically gave up and refused to set his roster. Then, when several of us called him out on it, he told us to go fuck ourselves.

Normally, the commish would ban an owner like this from partaking in future league activities, but ours is a puto. Instead of removing the owner from the league or handing down any sort of discipline, he told us, “He was a cool guy,” and, “We would like him if we only gave him a chance.” Well, we let the pendejo play in the league again this year, and it was a big mistake—can you believe the pendejo did it again? To make matters worse, we told him several times to set his lineup before the games even started. I would ask our commish to do something about this, but, like I explained earlier, he is a puto. He’s also gone MIA since trade-raping a chunti for the second-best quarterback in the league.

I could go on and on about the problems with the league and our useless commish, but I’ll cut to the chase: Why are so many Mexicans putos and pendejos?

The Prickly Pear

Dear Gabacho: Between all the talk about putos, male rape, pubic hair and mamando verga, methinks you meant to sign up for Grindr, not fantasy football. Then again, with its obsession over Packers, sweaty men and asses, looks like you found the perfect home for your fantasies—¡Que chulo!

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican